By Marcina Zaccaria . . .

It was glorious to return to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to see Sun & Sea, an opera performance.

Sun & Sea reminds us what a glorious three day or one week vacation might be.  With texts by Vaiva Grainytė, translated from Lithuanian by Rimas Užgiris and Music and Musical Direction by Lina Lapelytė, this opera takes the seasoned BAM audience to the balcony, a new place to witness singing in the Opera House.  Feeling safe after having our temperatures taken at the door and having shown our vaccination records, we get the sense that disease will pass us by.

Venice can feel like a glorious place where time almost exists but the mystery of the everyday looms.  Drawn to this performance after hearing that it captivated Venetian audiences in 2019 at the Biennale, I truly appreciated seeing Director and Scenographer Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė’s perspective.  Sun & Sea is the opposite of a glossy magazine cover.  Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė doesn’t fail to appreciate that people are from so many places in the world.  The opera singers refuse to wiggle into a size five before appearing in their bathing suits to snack on fresh salad or grapes, play cards, or tend to their families.

Drama is elusive in this presentation, and we never reach the climactic heights that so many of us anticipate.  Songs ripple among the young and old sunbathers.  Tossing beach balls or walking a dog through the sand, the attention to everyday life is the most astonishing component of this opera.  Though there is some free flow in the movement, particularly by the children, the joy is in seeing the singers mostly laying back, harmonizing so effortlessly.  Spoken words cut through the songs, providing an additional layer of sound.

It all feels quite anecdotal, and though the text in the libretto warns us of a volcanic type of climate change that might destroy our sense of stasis, the singers never break a sweat, much like the characters in Sunday in the Park with George.  Music repeats on throughout the evening, and staggered audience entrance times allow the freedom to flow through the balcony at will.  It is recommended to exit at one hour, when the songs repeat.  What a great way to say goodbye to the Summer!

Sun & Sea remains at the BAM Fisher (Fishman Space), located at 321 Ashland Place, until September 26 before touring other parts of the US.

Photos: Richard Termine